Boston cruises give you a fun and memorable way to view the city from the water, plus experience other exciting sights you'd get to see close-up from land: whales and dolphins, historic lighthouses, some of the more distant Harbor Islands, and even the close-up thrill of tall ship sails snapping in the breeze.
Most of Boston's river and harbor cruises do double-duty, letting you sightsee from a unique perspective while you enjoy a gourmet dinner or lunch, learn about the architecture and history of waterfront buildings from the on-board guides, visit Cape Cod and Provincetown, and see famous sights such as the Bunker Hill Monument and the famous War of 1812 battleship, the USS Constitution.
So pick your cruise, and get ready for an unforgettable experience!
Photo credit: Cruise boat on a sightseeing tour around Boston Harbor, (c) Boston Discovery Guide
Boston Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you. Learn more
1. Whale Watching Cruises from Boston
As your whale watching cruise boat whisks you 25 miles east of Boston to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, you'll enjoy city skyline views and the beautiful Harbor Islands.
Although the cruise out to Stellwagen Bank is spectacular, once you're there, the real fun begins as you watch the whales, dolphins, other sea mammals, birds, and fish come close to your boat.
Not surprisingly, lots of Boston visitors consider these cruises to be the most exciting part of their trip to Boston.
2. Duck Tours
Boston Duck Tours take you on a unique adventure - a sure winner when you want to combine sightseeing with fun.
Part on land, part in the water, Duck Tours take you past iconic historic and modern sights. For many passengers, the best moment is when you splash down in the Charles River.
3. Boston Harbor Cruises
Boston Harbor cruises offer you a fun way to appreciate the city's most important historic sites, see the Harbor Islands, and enjoy city skyline views from the water.
If you have a special maritime interest, such as lighthouses or tall ships, Boston probably has a Harbor cruise that specializes in it. In addition, other cruises offer added entertainment, such as gourmet lunches and dinners, music and dancing, sunsets and romance.
Most Harbor cruises last from about 45 minutes to 2 or 3 hours. This means that even if you only have a small amount of time, you may still be able to fit one into your schedule.
Boston Harbor Cruises on the Northern Lights & Adirondack III
From historic sightseeing cruises to cruises with live music to special holiday cruises, the Northern Lights yacht and tall ship Adirondack III offer lots of Boston Harbor tour choices:
Fall Foliage Cruises (through November 6)
- Fall Foliage Brunch Cruise on Northern Lights - Enjoy a tasty gourmet brunch, fall foliage, and panoramic views as you cruise around Boston Harbor
- Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise on Northern Lights - Sip hot cider as you enjoy lunch on this relaxing fall foliage cruise to celebrate seasonal colors
Popular Cruises on the Northern Lights:
- Northern Lights Sunset Cruise - Grab a refreshments from the bar and then relax as you watch the sun set on this sail around the Harbor, just in time to catch the USS Constitution fire its cannons as the sun dips down past the horizon
- Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise on Northern Lights - End your weekend on the perfect note by grooving to live jazz as you watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline (Oct 23, 30)
- Holiday Brunch on Northern Lights - See historic sights and panoramic views around Boston Harbor with friends and family as you enjoy this relaxing cruise with brunch, hot chocolate, and holiday cheer - Book now
- Holiday Cocoa & Carols Cruise - Sip hot chocolate and treats as you listen to jazzy holiday favorites on this festive cruise - Book now
- New Year's Eve Cruise on Northern Lights - Say goodbye to 2022 and welcome 2023 on this festive Boston Harbor cruise with music and gourmet appetizers; beverages for purchase onboard - or pre-order a bottle of Moet & Chandon when you book - Book now
- New Year's Day Brunch Cruise - Welcome the New Year with a tasty hot 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing tour around Boston Harbor - Book now
Fun Boston Harbor Cruises
4. Fall Foliage Cruises
Some of us dream all year about going on a fall foliage cruise, and it's easy to understand why . . .
Imagine brilliant crimson, orange, and golden foliage splashed against the rugged New England and eastern Canadian coastlines, layered between brilliant blue sky and even bluer water.
Choose short 1-2 hour cruise, a day cruise, or something longer.
5. Charles River Cruises
A Charles River cruise shows you Boston and Cambridge from a completely different perspective.
On the Boston side of the river, you'll pass Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and even one of Boston's quirkiest landmarks, a vintage Citgo sign.
And on the Cambridge side of the river, you'll view the Charles River Locks, MIT, Harvard, and the Museum of Science.
Four different Charles River cruise experiences are available ...
6. Lunch, Brunch, & Dinner Cruises
Going on a Boston dinner cruise - or lunch or brunch cruise - is a favorite with visitors and locals. Not only do you get to enjoy a delicious gourmet meal, but you'll also have a memorable voyage around the Harbor or Charles River and see gorgeous scenery.
On some Boston dinner cruises, you'll even enjoy DJs and dancing - or perhaps celebrate a special occasion such as Mother's Day or New Year's Eve.
Because of the size of the luxury vessels used for the dinner cruises, they happen year-round, regardless of the weather.
7. Cruises to Provincetown
A whole different world awaits you on Cape Cod...and the easiest way to get there is by water.
Take a fast ferry from Boston to Provincetown, and you'll be stepping on shore in 90 minutes - perfect for a day trip or weekend away.
The Provincetown ferry runs daily from May - October, and you can choose from 2 convenient departure locations in Boston.
8. Cruises to Boston Harbor Islands
Hop on a Boston Harbor Islands cruise, and in only 15 minutes, you can be in another world.
The Harbor Island National Park Area includes 32 islands and 2 coastal peninsulas in Boston's Inner and Outer Harbors. You'll find a rich assortment of activities sponsored by local groups, a 19th century fort to explore, sandy beaches, hiking trails, campgrounds, and some of the best views of the Boston skyline.
Speed, spinning turns, loud rock music blaring from 30 on-board speakers, and the crew's comic routine involving pirates and mutant cod make Codzilla the wildest ride in the Harbor.
The Codzilla cruise is not for the faint of heart - but if you're looking for a unique cruise experience that combines sightseeing with fun - and you don't mind getting wet - this may be the Boston Harbor tour for you.
10. Tall Ship Cruises
The romance of billowing white sails against blue skies . . . the excitement of being on an actual tall ship, a windjammer schooner that's a replica of mid-19th century Baltimore clippers . . . the adventure of exploring coastlines and open waters . . .
You'll get all of this and much more on a sailing cruise on Boston's own tall ships - the Adirondack III and the Liberty Fleet. You'll also find plenty of specialty cruises on these magnificent tall ships - Champagne cruises, sunset cruises, sightseeing tours of the coastline. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your memorable tall ship experience.
11. Vacation Cruises from Boston
Boston is a major port city, and a favorite departure point for vacation cruises going to Bermuda, other New England ports, Canada, the Caribbean, and even Europe.
The convenient location of Boston's Cruise Port makes going on these cruises especially easy and fun.
12. Water Taxis
You're flying into Boston Logan Airport and staying in a Downtown Boston hotel . . . so you take a cab from the airport, right?
Wrong! You take a water taxi . . . faster, cheaper, and much more fun! And what a view!
Several companies provide on-call water taxi service to a number of locations - they'll zip you to most spots in 10 minutes or less. Think of this as one of the best Boston mini cruises!
More Fun Boston Cruises
More Boston Sightseeing Cruise Articles
- Sailing Boston on your own - where to rent a sailboat, hire a charter, or take lessons
- Boston whale watching cruises - Watch whales and other sea mammals play
- Boston Duck Tours - the city's most popular land/water tour combo
- Day trips from Boston - Want to get away from the city for a day or even a weekend? Here are some interesting places to consider
- Check out other Boston activities for summer
Need a Boston Hotel or Apartment?
Use this handy map from Booking.com to find the perfect place to stay. Just enter your dates to find what's available, see the best rates, and make your reservations.